The Queen's Lover
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The Queen's Lover

2.87 of 5 stars 2.87  ·  rating details  ·  661 ratings  ·  155 reviews
A “deeply intelligent” and “spellbinding” historical novel of Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution (The Washington Post)

Francine du Plessix Gray’s beautifully realized historical novel reveals the untold love story between Swedish aristocrat Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette. The romance begins at a masquerade ball in Paris in 1774, when the dashi...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Penguin
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Misfit
Parts of this review will discuss events that are historical fact. If you aren't familiar with the French Revolution and the fate of royal family, it would be best to stop reading this review. And just so I don't get accused of spoiling, the book jacket and the first pages of the book make it clear that at least in this version Von Fersen and Marie Antoinette were lovers.

The Queen's Lover is the fictional memoirs of Count Axel Von Fersen, memoirs he wrote later in his life. These memoirs are bei...more
Margo Tanenbaum
I have a weird fascination with Marie Antoinette and her family and was really looking forward to reading this new novel about Count Fersen, who was perhaps the secret love of Marie Antoinette's life and the architect of the failed escape plan to Varennes, after which the royal family was captured and soon imprisoned in Paris. I didn't feel this novel, which is told in the first person by Fersen himself with other parts narrated by his sister, added anything to my knowledge of the story or my un...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Okay, so, I admit it, when I saw the hero of this novel was Axel von Fersen, I immediately thought of so-dreamy-makes-lesbians-faint Jamie Dornan, who portrayed von Fersen in the 2006 Marie Antoinette. Nummy. Needless to say, that mental image helped make this novel especially awesome. But even if your mental image of Swedish courtiers isn't shaped around twenty-something Irish actors, I still think you're really going to dig this book.

Told in parts by von Fersen himself -- by way of his memoir,...more
Caroline
"The Queen's Lover" is the fictional memoir of Count Axel von Fersen, a man long-speculated to have been the lover of doomed Queen Marie Antoinette. "Edited" by Fersen's sister, the novel focuses on not only his relationship with Marie, but Fersen's entire life--from his many romances to his efforts in the American Civil War.

The Good

Oh, look! A book on Fersen! I've always wanted a book about Fersen. He's such an interesting man, and his relationship with Marie was truly interesting.

The Bad

Wait,...more
Quinby6696 Frank
This book was disappointing. I was salivating at the prospect of reading a good historical novel about the relationship between the Swedish Count Axel von Fersen and his purported long term affair with Marie Antoinette. The story is told through the use of Fersen's actual memoirs and the fictional ones of his sister Sophie. The transitions between the memoirs is stilted and the combination of fact and fiction harms the flow of the narrative feels uncomfortably stiff. A good historical novel make...more
Susan Johnson
I really really wanted to like this book but it just wasn't possible. It was an interesting premise but I just felt like it pandered too much to what the author thought the readers wanted. The story was about Marie Antoinette's affair with Swedish nobleman, Axel von Fersen. The queen was 19 and Fersen was a very haughty, wealthy man who counted the King of Sweden and the King of France as friends. Apparently he had few morals. Not only did he have an affair with the Queen but with numerous marri...more
Charlie
2.5 stars
Gems: What's not to love about the French court? You know you're in for a treat whenever this part of history is the subject. The historical research and detailing is phenomenal and demonstrates the authors knowledge and care of the era. It's very well documented, precise and sticks to the basics we all know and love. Now, certain readers will appreciate this, or they may find it a bit dry. It really depends on your particular taste. Although it's listed as historical fiction, it reads...more
Jaime (Twisting the Lens)
This review will be posted on April 16th to coincide with the book tour hosted by TLC Book Tours.


The idea of Marie Antoinette is one of legend. Her grace. Her beauty. Her charm. There have been many stories told of the young queen- some of truth, some of misquoting. However, what every story told has in common is the inability to deny that she commanded a room in a quiet, powerful way with not just her beauty, but her charisma as well. She is the queen for which men found themselves speechless i...more
Patty
The life story of Marie Antoinette fascinates many a lover of historical fiction. One of the many questions not completely answered throughout time is whether she had an affair with Count Axel von Fersen of Sweden. This book reads as Count von Fersen's memoir - with some additions from his beloved sister Sophie.


Count Axel wrote a long stream of letters and kept a diary so there is quite a record of his thoughts from his lifetime. Marie Antoinette's correspondence did not survive quite as intact...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
This book is a fictional tale of Count Axel Von Fersen of Sweden's memoirs. He was the lover of Marie Antoinette. The book also includes chapters from the point of view of his sister, Sophie. I really liked the telling of this story from the point of view of a memoir. You get a more intimate look at what Von Fersen was feeling and doing throughout the book. It was interesting to get inside his head.

Count Axel Von Fersen meets a young Marie Antoinette and falls for her. This book doesn't cover a...more
Jafar
With Hillary Mantel winning a second Booker Prize you’d think I’d pick up one of her books if I wanted to read a historical novel. I know her books must be very good, but somehow I can’t get myself to read a 650-page novel about Thomas Cromwell. So I pick this book up after reading a favorable review on NPR. The affair between Marie Antoinette and a Swedish royal that I’d never heard of before. Shouldn’t be too bad, you’d expect, especially when the author has a royal name like Francine du Pless...more
Karen
This book is on best seller lists and the author supposedly "expertly researched and deeply imagined" this novel. I should have picked up on the "deeply imagined." I've read several books about Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette, and although there were hints that Ferson may have been Marie Antoinette's lover, I don't recall it ever being confirmed. I picked this book up because I thought there might be new historical information about Marie Antoinette's life, but this book is just imagined garbage...more
April Preston
In general I liked this book. I learned a lot more about the French Revolution from a different viewpoint. It also emphasized the maternal side of Marie Antoinette which I don't often think about. The writing was good but a little dry at times. The sex scenes were unnecessary and graphic. I skimmed the last three chapters because I didn't care that much about the end of Axel's life. If I could I'd give it a 3.5, but as good reads doesn't allow that I rounded up.
Lucy
Due to partiality towards my favourite Queen, Marie Antoinette, I have to admit that I was very reluctant to read this novel. I knew right off the bat that some things in this book would definitely rub me the wrong way…so let’s see how that turned out;)

Written as a memoir, Count Axel von Fersen’s story is presented to us as an edited version published by Sophie, his sister. Hence, there are passages and chapters interjected by Sophie’s account of what happened as well as those by Axel himself. T...more
Lianne
Sep 14, 2012 Lianne added it
A rich sometimes dense portrayal of the little known story of Marie Antoinette's long term relationship with a Swedish courtier, Count Axel von Ferson. The tragic unfolding of their lives is based on actual letters between Axel and his sister Sophie who was his confidante. The author casts "Toinette" in a sympathetic light. She was a pawn of history, betrothed to Louis XXI as a fourteen year old. She tried to survive in the decadence of Versailles with the resources of her spirit and beauty, but...more
Samantha
I think to enjoy this book, you have to go into it expecting to read a history about the French Revolution and Swedish politics in the late 18th, early 19th century. Although The Queen's Lover is technically a novel, it is told in memoir form from the point of view of Axel von Fersen, with chapters by his sister, Sophie Piper, interspersed. Since Francine Du Plessix Gray uses this format of a fictional memoir, she is able to mostly relay historical facts and paint a wide picture of the politics...more
Marg
3.5/5

Count Axel von Fersen is a name that any Marie Antoinette fans would most likely be familiar with. As the man that she was alleged to be having an affair with, his name is inextricably linked with hers as was his life and in some ways his death.

This book is written as a memoir, relying on known history as well as actual letters than have survived from the time and using those to tell of the events of the relationship between Axel and Marie Antoinette as well as many other major events of th...more
Bev watts
I really enjoyed this book. I have read several books about the French Revolution, but had never heard this part of the story. While reading, I kept thinking that I needed to read more non-fiction to balance this fictional story. I was delighted at the end to find that much I'd the book was based on actual letters between the main characters. I would call this factionalized history rather than historical fiction, if that makes any sense.
Jacqui
Okay I admit I picked this up in the hopes of learning a little history while enjoying some brain candy a la "The Other Boleyn Girl". I found the protagonist to be so unappealing, however, that the only reason I finished the book was to exult at his death. If you can cheer for a guy who professes his true love while dropping his pants at every opportunity, perhaps you'll enjoy this more than I did. Bonne chance!
Eileen Iciek
There have been a number of non-fiction books out in recent years that tell their stories in a novelistic format. Erik Larson Erik Larson's books such as Isaac's Storm  A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson and The Devil in the White City  Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson are of that genre.

This book, however, is more of a novel teaching the reader history. There is almost no dialogue in the book since it is told in the form of a diary or memoir written by Axel von Ferson, a Swedish count and the purported lover of Marie Antoinette. WIthout dialogue, the story dragged in parts, especially when Axel whines about som...more
Lauren
Beautifully written but it simply didn't hold my interest. If you are really interested in the French revolution or 18th c. Sweden, this might be your book. If not, I don't think this is a gateway to further reading.
Jo Butler
Count Axel von Fersen is nineteen when he meets an effervescent girl his own age at the Paris Opera in 1774. She is masked, so Fersen does not know the identity of the charming blonde until she is leaving. She lifts her mask for a heartbeat, and he recognizes Marie Antoinette, the future Queen of France. Thus begins "The Queen’s Lover," by Francine du Plessix Gray.

Ms. Gray’s book is a magnificent tale of silk-clad French courtiers, bloody-handed executioners, and the gay, doomed Marie Antoinette...more
Jaylia3
Based on the actual papers and letters of Count Axel von Fersen, the Swedish diplomat with a romantic attachment to Marie Antoinette, this novel is written in the form of a memoir edited and supplemented by Fersen’s sister Sophie. Sophie’s few chapters allow author Francine Du Plessix Gray to convey information Fersen himself couldn’t or wouldn’t, his own death at the hands of an anti-aristocratic mob for instance, but most of the story is Fersen’s bittersweet memories many years after the event...more
Sharon
Francine du Plessix Gray gives us an intimate look at the French royal family in "The Queen's Lover." Told in the first person by either Swedish Count Axel von Fersen or his sister Sophie, the book examines the politics and personal lives of the Bourbon royal family and their supporters in pre- and post-Revolutionary France.

Gray was given access to von Fersen's diaries and letters that were recovered after his death, and all of the quotations from correspondence are taken directly from those ori...more
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
An interesting take on life behind the scenes in the palace of Louise XVI and Marie Antoinette. As a reader that limits her historical fiction intake, the "story" must grab me to make me forget that it takes place beyond our current times. From the summary, I was intrigued by the look at the French side of history, as I often read about the English kings. The addition of an affair and Marie Antoinette's obvious fame were definitely points to pull me in.

Written from both the perspective of Axel,...more
Marti
Thank you BookBrowse for the chance to read The Queen's Lover, an arc novel.

The Queen's Lover is about Count Axel Von Fersen and his heart's desire Marie Antoinette. The book follows his life from the time he meets Marie until his death. It is told in journal entries, letters, repeated conversations and at times by his best friend, his sister Sophie. The book highlights the affair of these two very public people before and during the French Revolution. The time of the novel really follows the de...more
Barb
I enjoyed the beginning of this book, I thought the premise of a memoir with the added perspective from the author's (Count Axel von Fersen) sister a clever one. There were some great anecdotal stories, some had me laughing out loud others had me turning up my nose at the thought of the aromas being described.

Du Plessin Gray was able to paint a vivid picture of the physical setting and shared interesting and relevant information on the history and culture of Sweden where von Fersen grew up. Unf...more
Sarah Wagner
I thought the concept of this novel was very intriguing, but I struggled to read it and kept thinking that the story could have been better told. For those who don't know, the Swedish count Axel von Fersen was an alleged lover of the tragic French Queen Marie Antoinette and not unlike the French Queen Axel suffered a tragic end. Fersen's life is certainly worthy of a novel, but I felt this one failed to live up to the task. First of all, the novel is told in the first person from Axel's point of...more
Diane
I have limited knowledge about the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette, so the book was interesting from that perspective. I couldn't say how much was fact and how much was imagination, but the author claims to have done extensive research.

I was under the impression that this was going to have more of a historical fiction feel, but in reality, it felt much more like a biography. It was one of those books, that while there was interesting information in it, I couldn't wait for it to end so th...more
Jessica
As I dive further and further into the genre of Historical Fiction, I've realized something. The more you enjoy the historical period surrounding the story? The more you'll love the book. In fact, I picked up The Queen's Lover mainly because I am fascinated by Marie Antoinette and everything that happened in her time period. I'd not heard a lot about her affair with Count Axel von Ferson, other than that it was a possible occurrence. So I was intrigued to see where Francine Du Plessix Gray would...more
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Francine du Plessix Gray, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and literary critic, was born in Warsaw, Poland, where her father, Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a French diplomat - the commercial attaché. She spent her early years in Paris, where a milieu of mixed cultures and a multilingual family (French father and Russian émigré mother) influenced her.

Widowed when her father died in bat...more
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